Reducing cover material needs of hot ...

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Reducing cover material needs of hot composting toilet
Author: Anonymous
Monday, January 26, 2004 - 5:00 pm
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I'm working on a project to compost about 50 person's feces, and am planning to design the system into an addition to an existing community hall, which is used daily. I'm wondering if I can reduce the requirements of the cover material and thereby the total volume? Obviously the frequency of needing to empty buckets is the main concern. I wonder if I could divert the urine and therefore use less sawdust/shavings/peatmoss/leaf mould?
I look forward to hot composting humanure, but the sheer volume of cover material needed seems to be a (mental?) block.

Author: Herb_Wis
Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 1:27 pm
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I do NOT allow pee-pee into my sawdust toilet. That is for 2 reasons:

1) Urine greatly increases the smell and messiness.

2) I use plastic bags instead of a bucket and again the less liquid the better.

I cannot say yet how this lack of urine will affect my humanure compost pile as I am STILL waiting for the first bin to fill up (it'll be years yet!) But I know that Joe says that urine is good for the pile and I believe it, but the pile I have is NOT dry or anything and seems to be breaking down okay. At least in warm weather it dimishes in size.

Author: Anonymous
Thursday, January 29, 2004 - 4:28 pm
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you could use larger containers and put wheels on
it so its easier to take out,even make a door to
the outside directly under the container so it
could be emptied once or twice a day,some people
use doors to the outside like this for their fire-
wood,its convenient and cleaner than tracking dirt
through the house or building...cover material is
essential and it must be carbon based,shredded
newspapers,garbage,straw,dry weeds,coffeegrounds,
etc,,you can put the urine on each day after HM
has been put in the Compost pile..goodluck..

Author: Anonymous
Monday, February 02, 2004 - 12:54 pm
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Thanks for the imput. I thought I might do that too, that is with a larger container and putting the urine on the compost pile later. However, I'm trying to get the need for dumping on the pile to at least once weekly.

Author: DaronPage
Monday, February 02, 2004 - 4:27 pm
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I find that with my bucket toilet,
it takes more to cover the solids, the liquids seem to filter to the bottom and may float the cover up if suficent volume is deposited. We typically dont need to add much if any cover, if a liquid only deposit is made.

Author: Anonymous
Friday, February 06, 2004 - 10:33 pm
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I wonder if diverting the urine will reduce the need for sawdust?

Author: Herb_Wis
Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 11:21 am
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It does reduce that need.

As I mentioned in another thread, I don't put urine into my toilet. That cuts down on smell and the amount of cover material needed. Also less sloppy in my bag (not pail) system.

Author: Anonymous
Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 2:54 pm
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In your opinion and experience, how much less cover material would you say is needed if you don't allow the urine into the toilet?

Author: Herb_Wis
Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 8:20 pm
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It's tough to put a percentage on it because it's been so long since I've stopped peeing in the container. But I would say a LOT less as there are no liquids to speak of that need soaking up.

It also depends on the season. In winter I don't use much cover material at all (this is an outhouse) because it freezes and there is no smell and no insects. In summer I use more to cover. If you don't, it gets kind of slimy.

But gosh, a 5 gallon pail of sawdust lasts me a LONG time. I think that maybe I recorded once how long a 5 gal. pail of sawdust or peat lasted for one person use.

Maybe I can find that note.

Author: igouce
Tuesday, March 02, 2004 - 2:23 pm
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Isn't it possible to fit two containers on top of eachother and drill holes in the upper container (in which cover material is added), so that the liquids can drain in the lower one? I guess that way you would probably get to use less cover material in the upper (solids) container, while the lower one can be emptied when needed.
I don't know though, if it would have any (negative) impact that the urine is colected as liquid, after it has been drained through the manure (dissolving stuff on the way down).

Author: admin
Saturday, March 06, 2004 - 6:54 pm
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When you add enough cover material to eliminate the odor of human excrement, you end up with a fairly dry mix that is probably too dry and too low in nitrogen to compost effectively, hence the reason to keep the urine in the toilet. The urine adds the moisture and the nitrogen that enables the cover material to compost. Fecal material alone does not seem to have sufficient moisture and nitrogen for effective backyard composting, especially when covered by enough sawdust to kill all odor.

Essentially, you would have a bucket of relatively dry sawdust with a few turds mixed in - not very good for compost. On the other hand, a bucket of urine soaked sawdust with a few turds mixed in seems to compost quite well.

Author: Herb_Wis
Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 11:43 am
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Of course if you don't pee in the container, then you don't need as much sawdust and the mixture is more turds than sawdust. My turds-only system with a handful of sawdust over each deposition does appear to compost (at least the pile shrinks in warm weather).

But this is an outhouse system with a screen door on it year around where the need to eliminate oders is not as great as in an indoor system where that need to suppress smells would be much greater with a larger use of cover material.

Author: Anonymous
Friday, March 12, 2004 - 9:34 pm
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so far my limited experience suggests that the finer the cover material the less is needed, i.e. aspen or pine bedding is less effective at stink-stopping than fine peat or sawdust, so you have to use quite a bit more of the "shaving" or "flake" cover. coir might be a good compromise except for being so darned non-local.

anyway using coarse flaky material I find I have to use more. but it's less messy.

The Covert Urban Humanurist

Author: Anonymous
Friday, May 13, 2005 - 12:43 am
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I am a bit new but isn't some of the cover material to help add air to the pile. oxygen is important and things like straw help add the extra air space in the pile. If you have too little air won't it might not allow the thermophilic bacteria to grow and it could become like your septic tank

Author: admin
Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 11:40 am
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Cover material does add air to the pile, but there is quite a bit of oxygen trapped in fine sawdust (for example). To illustrate that, fill a bucket with fine sawdust and pack it in. Then add water to the bucket until it's full. You will see that you can add quite a bit of liquid. The water is filling the air spaces. So even a fine cover material will add air to the pile and you don't have to actually *see* the air spaces to know they're there.

Joe Jenkins

Author: Max
Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 8:25 am
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ah, this seems to be the thread for i've been looking for. i also have a problem with the sheer volume of cover material needed, and i realized that the nitrogen in urine has too high a bioavailability for the usual cellulose/lignin based cover materials, hence the production of some ammonia (nitrogen loss).
the way i countered this was by mixing into the usual cover materials, a simple carbohydrate in the form of unsulphered, blackstrap molasses. i do this by dissolving the molasses in hot water and mixing it thoroughly with the cover material, then allowing it to dry. molasses is the best sugar source to use since it contains potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, B vitamins ect. and it is a by-product of the sugar industry. due to it's high carbon bioavailability it is important not to use too much as it will deplete all the nitrogen in the pile very quickly, which also explains its well known odour controling properties. this method allows one to get away with much less cover material, depending on how much molasses is in the mix.
i can't say for sure what the exact ammount is that should be used, if someone out there knows the C/N ratio it would be helpful. for now just start experimenting with small quantities and work your way up in small increments.

Author: Max
Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 11:08 am
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the C/N ratio for most sugar products is about 50:1

Author: blake
Thursday, February 02, 2006 - 3:35 pm
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what are you(those who dont collect pee) doing with your urine? my experience tells me that collecting all waste(toilet, garden, and kitchen) and composting them creates a naturally balanced compost product. i get free sawdust from a cabinet shop so urine is essential to moisture content for me, and a metal trash can of sawdust(about 30 gallon size) lasts me 2 months. it just seems that in the end after seperating urine or cooking molasses you have complicated a relatively simple process

Author: Max
Friday, February 03, 2006 - 12:39 pm
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i always include urine in my humanure pile.
i don't 'cook' molasses, i've purchased it in bulk quantities which is very cheap here. however, i am now growing sugarcane and lemongrass and grinding it into cover material, which is working just as well as my previous ground leaf/molasses mixture. i can use it very sparingly with no odour problems, and it sends the thermophiles into warp speed, snapping up every bit of available nitrogen in the pile.

Author: admin
Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 6:58 pm
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Where are you located, Max?

Author: Max
Sunday, February 05, 2006 - 1:27 pm
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I'm located in South Africa.
admittedly i was lucky to have found a great deal on bulk molasses, but i do think whole ground sugarcane has all the pro's of molasses with the added benefit of the cellulose material.
dry, granular molasses is quite cheaply available as an animal feed supplement. it is actually a grain that is coated with molasses and dried, i have no experience with it though.

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